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Press Release - Gatchalian files bill prohibiting smartphone and gadget use during class hours

Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to prohibit the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets within school premises during school hours.

Under the Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act (Senate Bill No. 2706), the Department of Education (DepEd) will be mandated to promulgate guidelines on the prohibition of mobile device and electronic gadget use within school premises during class hours. The guidelines shall apply to learners from kindergarten to senior high school in both public and private basic education institutions. Teachers are likewise prohibited from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets during class hours.

Gatchalian acknowledges that while mobile devices and electronic gadgets can be compelling tools to enhance learning and teaching, he pointed out how they can cause distractions that could adversely impact learning, especially among basic education learners.

"Aside from decrease in learners' academic performance, access to such devices seems likely to mediate involvement in cyberbullying that is why the use of mobile devices and other electronic gadgets must be restricted, especially during class hours," Gatchalian said.

Results of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed that 8 in 10 learners aged 15 reported being distracted by smartphone use during class. The same number of learners also reported being distracted by other learners' smartphone use during class hours. PISA results also reveal that distraction due to smartphone use during class is correlated with a decrease in performance of about 9.3 points in mathematics, 12.2 points in science, and 15.04 points in reading.

The proposed measure, however, provides some exceptions: learning related-exceptions such as classroom presentation or class-based learning activities; health and well-being-related exceptions such as learners with health conditions and require the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets; and exceptions related to managing risks such as emergencies, response to perceived threats or dangers, and during field trips or activities outside school premises.

In the 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report, the United Nations